Conflicting, yet complementary forces of nature are explored in Horizon Lines: Reflections on Fire and Water, an exhibit by Red Deer artists and spouses Paul Boultbee and Glynis Wilson Boultbee.
Although Glynis and Paul create their own artworks in separate studios, there’s something remarkably cohesive about their pieces in the joint exhibit at the Marjorie Wood Gallery in the Kerry Wood Nature Centre.
Both of the Red Deer College-trained artists share a spare aesthetic and often use a simple line, or landscape outline, to define the separation between earth and sky.
Glynis’ art making was influenced by Alberta’s last few smoky summers. Having spent time in British Columbia during the height of fire season, Glynis said, “I found it disturbing to think about all the physical destruction through fire and the impact on the human beings who are in its path.”
Is the combination of aging forests and dry springs randomly producing combustible conditions, or are Canada’s wildfire problems getting worse with climate change, Glynis wonders.
“I don’t know enough about the science behind it,” she admits — but it makes for an interesting artistic exploration.
Her mixed-media works based on wildfire often contrast the green-blue colours of foliage and water with blazing reds and oranges.
A work titled The Shape Shifters sparsely depicts a burning forest with a line of vertical tree trunks, laser cut into a birch panel.
The “reflection” of these trees is shown as wavy cut-outs in the lower half of the piece.
As if providing the yin to his wife’s yang, Paul has created water-based landscapes that make bold use of horizontal elements to delineate the horizon, or define “our public and private worlds.”
Like Glynis, Paul aims to reduce his subject matter to its barest essence. His paintings in this show are ambivalent, minimalist pieces that leave much to the viewer’s imagination.
For instance, the serene, horizontal Flow can be viewed either as an ocean, Prairie snowdrifts, or some other undefined vista. He said, “My idea was to create a whole mood with a few strokes.”
Paul’s most personal work is Grand River, which depicts a water course that winds through his Paris, Ont., hometown.
He’s collaged photographs of the Victorian cobblestone-covered houses that this New World Paris is known for: Structures covered with rows of river stones instead of bricks.
The Red Deer College librarian, who has lived in the city since 1982, hopes viewers will form their own perceptions of what his work represents.
Glynis is a Nova Scotia native and corporate consultant who grew up in Ontario, but spent many summers at her family’s cottage near the ocean.
She’s drawn on these recollections to create a small series of simple seascapes that are — like Paul’s works — open to interpretation.
While viewers can easily picture a prairie instead of an ocean in these pieces, Glynis said, as a Maritimer, she has chosen to celebrate her “love affair with water,” which contributes to her sense of well-being.
The Horizons exhibit runs until Friday.